Pete Robbins ’12 – This past weekend I went to Strasbourg with four friends.  It is a city on the Rhine, bordering France and Germany, and the biggest city in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, which has been a contested region between France and Germany for centuries, and most recently during the Second World War.  It is therefore a unique place, with a dialect (a distinct language, rather) called Alsacian.  It is also the seat of the European parliament.

This photo was taken at the Strasbourg Museum of Modern Art in front of a recreation of a work by Kandinsky.

Strasbourg is known for its imposing cathedral for which construction began in the 13th century.  While standing in the nave, all I could think was that when I visited Abraham Lincoln’s log cabin birthplace in Kentucky, they celebrated that tiny, still standing, “ancient” 19th century building.  Notre-Dame de Strasbourg has been, by far, the tallest building in Strasbourg for centuries.  And cathedrals as big or bigger than it are all over France.

I guess my point is that I am amazed by this country, and very happy to be here.  I am staying in Paris in a single apartment in the 14th arrondissement.  My program is called IES Abroad, and every morning I walk about 20 minutes to school – I can take the Metro if it is raining but it’s such a short distance that it’s a waste of time.  To write about the appeal of Paris would be redundant, so I won’t do it.  I assure you, it is appealing.

Back to Strasbourg (after all, traveling is one of the best parts of study abroad) – we visited the Modern Art Museum which boasts two Picassos, a room full of Kandinskys and a Gauguin.  We also went to the international museum for illustration, named after the Alsacian illustrator Tomi Ungerer. 

Other trips I have loosely planned include a trip to Belgium in March, and I will surely go to Spain and Switzerland while I’m here to visit some friends.  My program offers trips to places within a reasonable distance from Paris, including Giverny (Monet’s home), Reims (where the French kings were crowned) and the Normandy beaches. 

To making new friends, eating great food, becoming a pedestrian and waiting to climb the Eiffel Tower until it gets warmer.  Cheers!